The girl next door

In Ronit Ziv’s new dance piece ‘With Subtitles,’ the next-door neighbor turns out to be a ‘working girl.’

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
January 21, 2011 16:30
3 minute read.
Ronit Ziv in her new piece "With Subtitles."

Ronit Ziv 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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In big cities, most people, even the wealthiest ones, live in apartment buildings. They hear footsteps in the hallway, just a touch too near their living room sofa, and exchange pleasantries while retrieving their mail in the afternoon. But how well do we know these people? We tuck ourselves into bed just a few meters away from where they lay their heads down at night, but in fact most city slickers only know a smattering of details about their neighbors.

Over the course of several weeks, choreographer Ronit Ziv noticed an unusual number of men exiting the apartment next door to hers. They came at all hours of the day and night. The conclusion, while unseemly, was obvious. Ziv’s neighbor was a so-called “working girl.”

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This discovery catapulted Ziv into a tornado of thoughts. What did it mean to share one wall with a prostitute? In her new work With Subtitles, Ziv presents the audience with this scenario. Two women share the stage, which is separated by an invisible line. Set to music edited by former Batsheva dancer Stephen Perry, the dancers stick to their respective side of the stage, at once demonstrating the similarities and differences between their daily routines. Ziv will premiere the piece Thursday and Friday nights at the Yaron Yerushalmi Theater in the Suzanne Dellal Center.

The piece begins with a strange question asked from the back row of the audience. “Who wants to be the prostitute?” asks the voice. Immediately, Sofia Krantz and Tamar Gros spring to action in a battle to prove their worthiness of the role. When Krantz wins, Gros is clearly disappointed.

During the first few minutes of the piece, the dancers, assisted by actor Benny Eldar, define the rules of the space. “This is my apartment and that’s yours, and there is a line in between that it’s best not to cross,” Gros explains to Krantz.

As in many of her previous works, Ziv raises questions concerning gender roles. “Why is it that just because I’m a man on stage, you immediately think I’m a client?” asks Eldar.

As the piece progresses, the performers take on their parts more and more fully, leaving behind the atmosphere of a rehearsal as they act out the nervous glances shared by the two women or the entrance of a new customer. Text and video help to pull the audience into this strange and disturbing reality. As Krantz stares out of a shutter, the only set piece on stage, a subtitle flashes by that reads, “All my customers were fine, except for that one. He was a real bandit.”

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Ziv has been a staple in the dance community for more than a decade. In 2001, she officially put herself on the map with the duet Rose Can’t Wait, which won first prize in the Suzanne Dellal Center’s Shades of Dance Choreography Competition. In the past 10 years, she has presented six pieces in the Curtain Up Festival and has toured the world, teaching her repertory and performing.

Her provocative, edgy works have made her an undeniable force in Israeli dance. On stage, Ziv is a flirtatious and powerful performer, with the looks of a 1940s movie star. She recently went to Germany to choreograph a piece for the Rauwald Company, directed by Ute Rauwald. The piece was a collaborative effort between Ziv and Rauwald, which resulted in the critically acclaimed work Lea, Can I Ask You Something Personally? With Subtitles will be staged on January 27 and 28 at Yaron Yerushalmi Theater.

For tickets, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il or call (03) 510-5656.

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